By Jen Kinney.
California cities are stepping up efforts to deter hateful acts and encourage victims to come forward, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Both Los Angeles and San Francisco are monitoring social media comments that might constitute a criminal threat or serve as a prelude to a crime. In Los Angeles, millions of tweets related to the region will be analyzed for patterns that might indicate actual violence is about to occur. San Francisco is sending undercover officers into neighborhoods to see if they are targeted and become victims of hate crimes.
Nationally and in California, reports of hate crimes have been on the rise. They rose 7 percent in 2015, according to the FBI, with incidents targeting Muslims growing the fastest — 257 reports last year, versus 154 the year before. In California, hate crime reports increased 10.4 percent in 2015. And those are just the crimes officials know about. Because victims often aren’t fluent English speakers or fear interaction with police, hate crimes are thought to be underreported.
To be a hate crime, an incident must involve physical harm, but Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon are encouraging people to come forward with any incidents of racist or bigoted behavior. According to the Times, the police want to track these too, in hopes that by monitoring this behavior and speaking out against it “they can battle back what some call the ‘normalization’ of hate.”